5 B2B Marketing Trends for the Built Environment in 2019

With Brexit, politics and the weather seemingly setting up 2019 as the most unpredictable year on record, it’s comforting to be able to say with certainty that there are at least 5 marketing trends in the construction, commercial interior and design sectors that are sure to be breaking new ground. But, are you ready for them?

Here, our Head of Innovation and International Development, Jess Matthewman, helps you get ahead of the built environment trends everyone will be talking about in 2019. From innovation and digital advancement, to accountability and authenticity, it’s going to be an exciting twelve months.

Trend 1: Embracing AI

‘A’ and ‘I’ are probably two of the most overused letters in marketing (along with ‘V’ and ‘R’, but we’ll get to that shortly…). Sure, we’ve all heard that the future is coming and it’s going to involve lots of smart robots and self-learning programs. The fact is though, ever since ‘I, Robot’ the reality of what has been built hasn’t quite matched up to expectations and it certainly hasn’t found its way into mainstream marketing plans. Until now.

The backend of 2018 saw some clever integrations of common AI programs, such as the use of chatbots in consumer campaigns. Rather than the standard ‘Can we help you with anything?’ pop-up, that flashes up on every new websites nowadays, these campaigns saw chatbots becoming fun (Dua Lipa bot playlist generator, anyone?). As always, B2B will begin to filter this through a different lense and there is huge potential for it in industries with a lot of big data, such as construction.

An image of a toy robot on an office desk

Trend 2: B2B, the Built Environment and a better use of VR

As mentioned, VR is another thing that has been hyped up and anticipated over the past few years, with early iterations sometimes being less thrilling than we expected. (Or maybe too thrilling, as anyone suffering motion sickness after donning a headset for more than five minutes might tell you.) I read recently that the thing needed for VR to take off truly was an ability for consumers to be able to share it with others: for example, watching a live football match ‘together’ in a virtual setting. It certainly makes sense, but I couldn’t help but think that perhaps the built environment is already one step ahead here – just look at the collaborative programs that allow multiple users to visit fully scaled BIM models, virtually walk around, take measurements and make changes to blueprints – all within the VR world. With that in mind, it is much easier to imagine the B2B world making best use of VR this year and finding a way to use this to truly engage with customers.

Trend 3: The Unstoppable March of the MarTech Stack

A photo of a stack of marketing technology / martech books

In a recent study conducted by Hattrick, we found that one of the major concerns for marketers across the construction, commercial interiors, design and manufacturing industries was marketing technology.

Whether they had achieved full marketing automation or they were struggling to grasp the idea of a ‘stack’, the majority agreed that digitalisation was happening and it was only going to become more important.

In parallel to this, the demand for campaign integration and thorough evaluation has helped to make a case for further investment in marketing technology. I believe all of this will make 2019 a tipping point for ‘martech; coming into the mainstream.

After all, there is a lot on the line: it’s not simply a case that investing in martech will help a business grow, but the risk of not getting a handle on it could actually prove to be the undoing of many traditional companies.

Trend 4: Authenticity is no longer optional…

It may come as no surprise that ‘trust’ hit an all time low in recent years, according to the annual Trust Barometer by Edelman. With the change in how news is vetted and reported, easier access to more information than ever before and the slow realisation that privacy is not what we may have expected, consumers are no longer happy to accept what is presented to them at face value. As such, businesses that use content to share a human and vulnerable side, which is also reflected in transparent operations and services, will thrive in 2019. On the other hand, businesses which try to hide behind a corporate facade or avoid calls for openness will find consumers have little patience.

An image of a person reading a newspaper with the front-page headline 'FAKE NEWS'

Trend 5: …And influencers will be held to account

It is almost impossible to talk about authenticity without also mentioning influencers. A favourite of the consumer world for some time, influencer marketing is beginning to see a clamp down from various standards agencies across the world. This means that the B2B personalities that are beginning to build a reputation for influencer marketing in the built environment arena are going to be more regulated from the start – something that I see as a positive. This will allow businesses to be upfront with their expectations, for influencers to act ethically with their agreements and for audiences to feel informed: a win-win-win situation.

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